Bacteriophages in Biological Wastewater Treatment Systems: Occurrence, Characterization, and Function

Viviane Runa, Jannis Wenk, Simon Bengtsson, Brian Jones, Ana Lanham

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

11 Citations (SciVal)


Phage bacteria interactions can affect structure, dynamics, and function of microbial communities. In the context of biological wastewater treatment (BWT), the presence of phages can alter the efficiency of the treatment process and influence the quality of the treated effluent. The active role of phages in BWT has been demonstrated, but many questions remain unanswered regarding the diversity of phages in these engineered environments, the dynamics of infection, the determination of bacterial hosts, and the impact of their activity in full-scale processes. A deeper understanding of the phage ecology in BWT can lead the improvement of process monitoring and control, promote higher influent quality, and potentiate the use of phages as biocontrol agents. In this review, we highlight suitable methods for studying phages in wastewater adapted from other research fields, provide a critical overview on the current state of knowledge on the effect of phages on structure and function of BWT bacterial communities, and highlight gaps, opportunities, and priority questions to be addressed in future research.

Original languageEnglish
Article number730071
JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
Publication statusPublished - 5 Oct 2021


  • bacteriophages
  • microbial communities
  • microbial ecology
  • viruses
  • wastewater treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)


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